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Transcreation vs Localization vs Translation: What Are the Differences 2024?

Michael Gallagher
Michael Gallagher
Posted in Zoom Sep 3 · 6 Sep, 2022
Transcreation vs Localization vs Translation: What Are the Differences 2024?

Reaching the international audience is nothing new in today’s technology. Aside from putting content for the world to see, most businesses, content creators, and web entrepreneurs have taken further steps to let their audience know exactly what they want to convey.

However, simple translations have grown so much to adapt to the in-depth needs of content consumers. Terminologies can be quite confusing especially when terms such as transcreation vs localization are put side by side, not to be confused with translation.

The rise of these ways to reach out to consumers is slowly evolving. And the right usage can boost traffic to your website. If you are confused about translation vs transcreation vs localization, this guide will help you get to know more about what suits your business the most.

Why translate content?

Businesses that need global exposure will also need a better reach for their international audience. And the basic way to reach your audience is through language translation.

Content translation is an effective tool of communication that provides businesses a great outlet to showcase their services and products. Aside from that, it is also beneficial for consumers, because it saves them time in figuring out what the content means.

Translating websites, digital chatbots, flyers, and even digital ads have made the international business grow wider. It translates words into a different language, and it benefits both producers and consumers, in no time. Translation has broadened the scope, and it has been a great avenue for businesses to get more clients and investors.

What is localization?

Businesses have grown through content translation, but sometimes, they took these steps forward to cater to their audience through a more natural approach.

Localization is the process of adapting content to a target local market. It includes adapting the entire content, not just translating the words. It converts texts and other elements like graphics and design, formatting, currencies, and more.

This way, local clients easily adapt to the website or product, as it caters to their culture. Localization gives more specific content to the target audience, and it gives a more natural feel to the audience.

While translation is useful, it is only an aspect of localization. The concept of localization is more complex and in-depth because, from the word itself, it localizes to the client’s setting, including its local regulations and legal requirements.

Localization expands to reach its target audience more. And it includes translation and modification of these sample elements:

•     User interfaces

•     Product manuals

•     Quick-start guides

•     Reviews

•     Disclosure statements

•     Images, graphics, and icons

•     Societal values, etiquette, and beliefs

•     Cultural humor, symbols, rituals, and myths

Transcreation vs Localization

Is Localization better than Translation?

The concept of which is better for your business will always depend on the context and how it is used. Either way, the need for translation will be there for localization.

However, the use of translation alone is useful, and at most times, just sufficient to cater to the needs of both the content creator and consumer. If you are most likely just to translate minor texts for your business, the need for localization should not be stressed.

But for most businesses, especially for those who are aiming to take roots in a foreign country, localization is a great approach. This will make your clients feel more appreciated and the feeling of how the product is tailored to their culture is emphasized.

As the Common Sense Advisory Report shows that 75% of consumers prefer to delve into products that are in their native language, translation and localization are tools that should be utilized in their ways. Businesses may have a slight confusion on transcreation vs localization, but that can be distinguished later.

Who will need Localization?

The need for localization will depend on your content and your target audience. But in general, your business will most likely have the edge with localization if you want it to be more appealing to your target population.

As people would like to buy products or have services in their native language, they would most likely view websites that contain elements in their language including reviews, currencies, numbers, and others. This may be confused with the common battle between transcreation vs localization, but the latter can be more technical.

Associate Professor of International Business Dr. Singh, from Saint Louis University, emphasized that localization is adapting to meet end-user expectations. Businesses that are trying to reach a global audience are highly encouraged to adapt well to one’s cultural preferences. And to expand to your audience, localization is a great key to doing so.

What is Transcreation?

The birth of another technique to reach out to consumers known as Transcreation has also brought ways for businesses to boom on their own. Transcreation is a process of adapting content to the client’s preference, while still retaining originality.

In a way, transcreation is a form of creative translation. It reworks around ideas, so the content still has its message in a different language. It often retains the original tone, intent, and style, but it resonates with the client’s language and culture.

A great example is how a brand has a slogan in the English language. If translated word for word into Japanese, it may come off with another message or a different intent which clients may misunderstand. Transcreation can beautifully translate what the original thought is in Japanese, and still, get the same message and afterthought from the consumers.

Who will need Transcreation?

Since adaptation is a big part of transcreation, businesses who want their brand to have a more homey yet objective feel would take a good deal with transcreation. It is particularly helpful for those in the advertising and marketing department, who would want to have a global impact with a hint of dedication.

Transcreation is greatly focused on the consumer response, thus, emotional impression and tone of voice are very important. At times, it uses direct translations, but it also has modifications to have the responses you originally want.

Content creation that captures the original “feel” or “vibe” of the original thought is what transcreation is all about. Slogan makers turn into transcreation so the original message would still be captured by the audience in another language.

Cultural preference does play a role, and although at times it does not use a single word translation from the original one, as long as it reaches its audience the way it originally intended, the goal of transcreation is still there.

Web content creators also benefit much from transcreation. This is particularly helpful for product descriptions, blogs, brand idioms, and others. Original translation might cause confusion and brand depreciation, so transcreation is the absolute key to conveying their message.

Other uses of transcreation are those for search engine optimization and e-commerce marketing. This makes online content authentic and readable, making it more search engine-friendly. On the other end of the user, it is more modified for them because transcreation uses keywords that are locally, culturally, and more language appropriate.

Transcreation vs Localization

Transcreation vs Localization, what is the better choice?

The confusion on transcreation vs localization is quite easy to grasp since both have the goal of adapting to the locals the original content. But somehow, the two techniques have differences that might not have the proper delineation.

The first thing you need to know is that transcreation specialists are writers and not just mere translators. They do copywriting services, and unlike those who provide localization, they are more focused on the content rather than the overall impact.

On transcreation vs localization, transcreation starts with a creative light, which sparks the source text into something that will provide feedback from the readers. Localization also uses creativity, but this is mostly tailored to the local setting (which could also be used for transcreation!) and for cultural appropriation.

When you look at the more technical side between transcreation vs localization, the latter may be more technical as it caters to what the market objectively wants. It is more technical in the units of measurement, currency, paper sizes, date formats, and even text lengths.

Using transcreation and localization can also differ. In a debate about whether transcreation vs localization has a better edge over the other, you can always use both in different circumstances.

You can use transcreation for simple translations that might create confusion, for delivering a brand’s slogan, or for locally-appropriate language to convey the brand’s message.

Localization, on the other hand, can be used when you turn idioms into content, when you ensure colors and images are appropriate for the local setting, when adapting the layout of a page, for converting dates and currencies, and when performing market research.


What are the pros and cons of different techniques?

Whether it is translation, transcreation, or localization, all of them are the best for the right posts and usages. It can boil down to preference, but the more that you know what these techniques are for, the easier you can use them for a specific project.


When it comes to translation, it has the following pros:


There is nothing quicker than a word-for-word translation. And this puts translation as one of the easiest things to do when you want your business to have a wider reach. But when you know what translation vs transcreation vs localization is all about, speed may not be your top priority.


When you just focus on transcreation vs localization, you may not opt for either one because they are both not as accessible as translation. There is various software that allows users to translate content in an instant. This may not apply to transcreation and localization.


The speed and accessibility of translation make it top-tier in having content in another language. Whether it is transcreation vs localization, they cannot beat how time-saving translation is.


This is also something that the debate on transcreation vs localization cannot beat. The translation is the most cost-effective of the techniques, as most (well there may be a few paid ones for business purposes) are free, or businesses may only pay a minimal cost compared to transcreation and localization.

However, these advantages of translation can also be weighed down with these cons.


Because most of the accessible translators are machines, translation can come off as insincere. Translation mostly focuses on getting the words across the other side of the screen, and the readers may have a different viewpoint on direct translation. Meaning can be altered, and this can compromise the message you want to convey.

Uneven quality

Other languages may not have the right word for what you want to convey, and translators use the closest possible translation to that word. Again, the message may not be the same. This may come off as an uneven quality for most content creators.


Since translation can be vague, this puts localization in a more elevated spot. There are various similarities between localization and transcreation, it is important to note that both use the simple technique of translating. For localization, it may have its spotlight. Here are its pros:

Conceptual approach

Unlike translation, localization has a more conceptual approach and it covers the overall cultural viewpoint of the reader. It starts by looking at themes, topics of the brand, and content. You don’t have to think about the show-off between transcreation vs localization, because this may apply to both.

Does not cost much

When you compare transcreation vs localization, the latter may not cost much. It has a smaller investment when it comes to time and money compared to transcreation.

Mirrored Message

The original message or campaign is mirrored when you use localization. The message is highly retained, and there is consistency with your global branding.

With these pros, localization can also come with a disadvantage that might put this technique behind the others.

Over the Top

Because localization has the aim to be natural and feel very “local”, it may come off over the top and it may seem fluffed in the other language. The use of superlatives may be exaggerated, and this may also be misinterpreted by some locals.


Transcreation has a more subtle approach among the three. It hints that the writer can write in your language while retaining the concept and original thought from another language. it also puts itself ahead of the others with these advantages.


Between transcreation vs localization, the former may be more creative in conveying the message to a foreign audience. The content in transcreation feels more natural, and not forced. Although this may be the goal of localization as well, transcreation writers have points that might be missed by casual translators.

The Original Message is Still There

Compared to translation, transcreation has a focus on the emotional impact of the audience. It tries to retain the original message without trying too hard with translations and still having the same emotional feedback as the original message.

Intensifies Local Branding

The global reach of most companies is easily achievable, but the local branding of transcreation makes it an effective tool in reaching out to clients more. This intensity of local branding is highlighted with transcreation, and this creates a more consistent content boost, too.

The creativity from transcreation also has shadows that might lure away businesses. Here are its disadvantages.


Among the three, transcreation is the most expensive one. It entails hiring the right professional for transcreation, and it requires different processes like multiple edits to have the brand’s style implemented.

Requires a Creative Mind

You need to have the right professional writer if you want your message to be conveyed properly. And because transcreation is relatively new, these professionals may be shorter in supply and might have higher rates compared to regular translators.

Results May Be Criticized

Transcreation entails more linguistic freedom for the writers, and this is a double-edged sword for the brand. They can be praised for having a great vocabulary with their approach, or they can be criticized for having too much creativity.


The evolving ways of effective communication have grown so much. Terminologies can be confusing at times, but the common goal of every technique is to convey a message from one side of the globe to another. No matter what technique your brand is going for, this goal remains to be the essence of why content is shared globally.

Translation, localization, and transcreation get brands soaring clients. Even without knowing it, you might even have used these techniques to have your ideas reach an international audience.

Understanding these techniques is important, so you can use them with the right content at the right timing, with the proper approach.

Although these techniques are interchanged and can sometimes be confused with one another, your brand’s vision is of greatest value. Personal preference plays an important role in what kind of technique you will use, and it is still best to have marketing experts have their thoughts on the message you want to convey on your website.